Bats caught by spiders were once thought to be a rare anomaly only occurring in a few regions of Central America. But a study recently reported by United Press International has revealed that bats are being snared in spider webs on every continent except the colder region of Antarctica.
Most people think of spiders as insect eaters. Even larger tropical species of spiders, with vertebrae-appetites, would only conger up the image of helpless mice or tiny rodents web-incased for spidie’s dinner.
The study was a unique compilation of field work, Google Internet information, scientific bibliography search, eyewitness experiences listed by bloggers, and inquiries of arachnologists with unpublished scientific data. Researchers came up with 52 known incidents of spiders eating bats across Central America, South America and North America.
Not exactly an epidemic, but still fascinating and unusual.
The scientific abstract reported bat-eating spider sightings in Canada, Costa Rica, Belize, Peru, Guatemala, Australia, Japan, China, Vietnam, Hong Kong, Panama, Papau New Guinea, Sri Lanka, Africa, United States (Florida and Indiana), Germany and South East England—to name a few.
According to research, the species of spiders are particularly large and the species of bats are particularly small, so it wasn’t seen as too peculiar. The study put it this way:
(not unusual) if we consider the fact that a number of larger-sized spiders are known to supplement their arthropod diet by occasionally preying on vertebrates. Fishing spiders (Pisauridae) have been reported capturing and devouring fish and frogs. Some species of wolf spiders (Lycosidae), huntsman spiders (Sparassidae), tarantulas (Theraphosidae) and other mygalomorph spiders were observed killing and eating frogs and lizards. Predation on snakes and mice by tarantulas and comb-footed spiders (Theridiidae) has been mentioned in the literature. Furthermore, there are numerous reports of birds being killed in the large orb-webs of araneid and nephilid spiders, whereby the birds were either eaten by the spiders or not.
Spiders are not the biggest threat to bats.
Center for Biological Diversity describes the disease as an insidious soil-based fungus that strikes while they are hanging in caves hibernating. It has killed millions of bats since experts started tracking the disease, which has a 90 percent mortality rate, in 2006 on the East Coast.
Scientists have been urgently seeking a cure for the fungal disease, but a solution still hasn’t been discovered.
As for bat-eating spiders, experts say they don’t pose the same threat as white-nosed disease and it is more likely that small species of bats and bat pups simply become unlucky victims quite by happenstance, than any predatory behavior by spiders.
Still, they were surprised to find incidents to be so wide ranging.
Read the full study by clicking here.